Sunday July 27th, 2014

Saturday morning's sunrise as seen from the top of my building in New Taipei City

Homemade Jalapeno Hummus with a ton of veggies wrapped in Romaine lettuce

This resident spider comes out at dusk and situates itself over the corner of the balcony

He purrs like a little Datsun should but his age is quickly starting to show

Sunny Sunday Funday Beachday ...

 Looking at Yehliu in the far distance from a beach in Jinshan District

Lots of (cute, foreign) kite surfers hanging around this beach 

The ocean water was wonderful although a bit too warm on such a hot day

A view along the mountain road from Jinshan over Yangmingshan and into my neighborhood

YunYuan-Denglijun Memorial Park 筠園-鄧麗君紀念公園

A most impressive memorial park situated in the mountains of Jinshan

A shy resident at the memorial park

Rows and rows and rows of tombs overlooking the ocean

Rows and rows and rows of tombs overlooking the mountains

Juming Museum 朱銘美術館 ...

Enjoying some fantastic pieces of work on a scorching hot day at the Juming Museum

A little girl creating a new piece of art along the outer wall at Juming

A blistering hot sun makes it a perfect day for an umbrella

Unusual art along one of the inner corridors at Juming

Sunday July 13th, 2014 (36°)

A butterfly and a HUGE bee found on the way around 金龍湖 Jinlong Lake

Off the beaten path and into trails and trails of cobwebs

One of a group of Magpies that had recently been fed = superb timing

I've seen these guys in blue many times ... may be a first for red

Randomness ...

Datsun is happy to be home and slowly getting back to his regular self

Levi being her usual crazy, playful self — she loves this chair

Crazy hot weather brings torrential afternoon storms followed by rainbows

Both of these images snapped with my new smart phone camera

Dealing with a very sick cat ...

The blog post titled Things I Absolutely LOVE is from Wednesday, June 18th. On that day, Datsun was bouncing around the house, being his usual sweet self. Never would I have imagined what was about to follow.

Thursday afternoon: Datsun was sick once or twice throughout the day. I never thought anything of it.

Friday: Datsun was sick many times throughout the day. Food was in the vomit so he was eating, however, I was becoming a bit concerned.

Saturday: Datsun was throwing up yellow liquids and panting. Around 11am, we headed over to our regular vet whom Datsun has been seeing for most of his life. The vet wasn't sure what was wrong but was worried enough to send us to a nearby animal hospital for tests.

The doctor at the animal hospital, 納嘉動物醫院 Hlane-Animal-Hospital, took x-rays and diagnosed Datsun with pneumonia. He said he would give us some medicine and that the cat should be fine in a few days. I mentioned that my regular vet had suggested taking blood and this doctor said he could do that. He gave Datsun some fluids while we waited for the results.

The tests came back with numbers through the roof. Datsun's BUN (blood urea nitrogen) showed as 124.2mg when normal levels are between 18 and 35mg. Creatinine came up as 11.4mg when normal levels are between 0.8 and 2.2mg. Both numbers relate to the kidneys. Datsun's AST (aspartate aminotransferase) read 458iu when normal levels are between 23 and 79iu. This number relates to the liver.

The vet proposed an ultrasound and it was only moments later that he and his assistant shaved Datsun's belly and started probing around. The vet said Datsun had a big kidney stone and very quickly starting talking about renal failure and chronic/acute kidney failure. I heard surgery at NT$30,000, approximately CAN$1075.00. Surgery would most likely rupture Datsun's kidneys so he would later be faced with dialysis treatments at NT$10,000 per day. When I asked for another option, the vet simply stated that I should put Datsun to sleep.

I don't know how long I sat there trying to understand the doctor's words. His lips continued to move but not much was registering. At some point, he left the room and I was left alone with Datsun, who seemed terribly unresponsive.

The silence screamed that this couldn’t be right. How could this possibly be right?

Eventually, I found my voice enough to call a friend who recommended I take Datsun to her vet. I motioned for the doctor to tell him I would be leaving.

Along with x-rays, papers from the blood work and an ultrasound image came a NTD$5,300 bill. The animal hospital doesn't take credit cards, of course, and as I made my way across the street to the ATM, the pouring rain seemed fitting.

Catching a taxi with the wet weather didn't come easily. Datsun and I had a trek over to the other side of town and he was eerily calm which worried me greatly.

Now, this part of the story could only happen to someone living in a foreign country. I am so grateful I speak Mandarin, although it didn't seem to help me out much in the following situation.

After giving the driver the address, he punched it into his GPS. Not too long later, the driver stopped in front of a helmet/raincoat store — they are plentiful in Taipei — telling me this was the address, pointing to his GPS. I told him that the place I wanted to go to was near the Core Pacific Mall, still a ways away, and said this definitely wasn't the place. He insisted that it was the address I had given him so I told him to go to the Core Pacific Mall and that I would call my friend to confirm the address.

I was sick with worry and although my friend explained the location quite well, the only thing that stuck was the name Jia Ching Animal Hospital. I figured that would be enough to get me there.

As we neared the Core Pacific Mall, I recalled my friend saying something about the 85° coffee shop which I saw just up ahead. I told the driver that I was looking for Jia Ching Animal Hospital. We both saw an animal hospital and I asked him if it was Jia Ching. I didn't recognize the first two characters but he confirmed it was Jia Ching. I asked him again if it was Jia Ching and he repeated Jia Ching.

Totally not Jia Ching.

I didn't discover this until the next day when my friend called to ask me where my cat was. I said that Datsun was at her vet and she said that she had just spoken to them and they told her that I never showed up. Tears started streaming down my face as I came to the realization that I had left Datsun at a completely different place. 

I scrambled to find the business card they gave me. The only words of English on it are Excellent Animal Hospital. I missed Jia Ching by a block. The girl at the Excellent Animal Hospital spoke very little English and when Datsun and I got there, I was so upset I could barely talk. I told her who I was and explained in English that my friend had called her and the girl nodded her head, gave me some papers to fill out and called the doctor. I had no idea I was at the wrong place.

It quickly became clear that the vet and his assistant spoke very little English. I thought it was strange since my friend did say that everyone at Jia Ching spoke English but I just switched over to Chinese and explained the situation as best I could.

The vet was genuinely concerned and handled Datsun so gently. He looked over Datsun's test results and confirmed that Datsun's liver and kidneys were 壞掉 which translates to me as broken. My heart sunk. The doctor stressed a few times that the cat's situation was very serious and that he needed to be put on an IV as soon as possible.

I asked him about surgery and he began using his index finger and making motions as if he was talking about cutting into the kidney to remove the kidney stone and when tears starting streaming down my face he stopped talking. I told him that I didn't understand what he was saying.  He tried getting his assistant to translate but she wasn't able to help out any.

The doctor told me to leave the cat in hospital for a few days and promised to do all that he could for Datsun. Each day in hospital would cost NT$1,500 and they requested a NT$5,000 deposit. Again I was off to locate an ATM; at least the rain had stopped.

Upon my return, the vet had Datsun already hooked up to an IV. I felt helpless and saddened that I had to return home without my Boy Cat, knowing he may never come home again.

Saturday night and Sunday were rough. I spent most of my time crying. Things seemed so out of balance without Datsun in the house. Monday couldn't come quickly enough.

When Monday came, Datsun was showing a lot of positive signs. And to think, I was prepared to let him go. I had decided that I couldn't go through with surgery for him and thought it would be best to put him down. My friend came over the vet to help me through the process but the vet was very happy with Datsun's progress and said he may be able to go home the following day if his blood tests produced good results.

I was shocked. Datsun did look better and even took a big (smelly) pee right in front of me. That was a good sign. Sure enough, the next afternoon I got a call from the vet to congratulate me on successful blood tests and to let me know that Datsun could go home that evening. 

Datsun was happy to be back in the house and started eating little bits on his own the next day. I took him back two days later for a check up and some more x-rays because the ones done at the Hlane Animal Hospital were not clear enough. 

Datsun does have three kidney stones, one being quite a bit bigger than the other two. They don't do sonar treatment for animals here in Taiwan so the only way to remove them is by surgery. I guess from here on in, it's a change of diet for Datsun —who is an extremely finicky eater —and making sure he gets enough water.

Also keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the kidney stones don't grow too quickly. Datsun will be going for regular tests now so we can monitor him. In the meantime, he will get as much love as I can give him and I will enjoy him (more so) for every day he is here. ♥

Tuesday July 1st, 2014

June 18th marked my last exam ever for this program — so proud!

Officially done with my studies at Ming Chuan University (MCU)

Fingers are crossed for placing first in my class for this final semester!

A day after my exam, Datsun fell very, very sick — story to follow